Team to keep tabs on financial management

Cooperation Minister C.N. Balakrishnan on Tuesday promised to examine the Vigilance report and other documents that were tabled in the Assembly in support of corruption charges against officials of Consumerfed, which runs several fair price shops across the State.

Replying to the debate on the demands for grants for his department, Mr. Balakrishnan said a special monitoring team would henceforth keep tabs on the financial management of Consumerfed. A senior official of the Finance Department will be appointed Finance/Accounts adviser for this, he said.

Earlier in the day, CPI (M) legislator V Sivankutty had charged Consumerfed and its officials with corruption to the tune of over Rs. 340 crore. He tabled several documents, including what he claimed was a Vigilance inquiry report.

The Minister said no one had made such an allegation till date and the legislator concerned had not submitted any complaint against this. He said his predecessor, G. Sudhakaran, had appointed Regi P. Nair as managing director and he had allowed him to continue on the basis of good references given by Mr. Sudhakaran.

However, his opinion about the official concerned has since changed, he pointed out.

Since Consumerfed was a major player in the public distribution system, he was particular about streamlining its functioning for the benefit of the common man.

The Minister also pointed out that out of the 11- members of the director board, four belonged to the CPI(M), indicating the nature of decision making in the federation.

Mr. Balakrishnan said the Cooperation Department will actively participate in the Mission Kubera launched by the Home Department against illegal money-lending operations. It also proposed to take up construction of apartments in cities.

It proposed to set up 9 soil testing and tissue culture laboratories across the State. High tech cold storages will be established in Thrissur and Idukki for preserving procured vegetables from the farmers. Cooperative societies will also enter the solar plant and biogas plant manufacturing business, he said.

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